Memory forensics

Memory collection

RAM acquisition on Windows systems


WinPmem is a (maintained) utility that can be used to conduct a local capture of memory.

As stated in the documentation, WinPmem implements three acquisition methods:

  • PTE remapping mode, the default method and the most stable one.

  • MMMapIoSpace mode, which leverage the MMMapIoSpace kernel API.

  • PhysicalMemory mode, which passes a handle to the tradition \\.\PhysicalMemory device.

WinPmem used to output capture in the Advanced Forensics File Format 4 (AFF4) format (which include metadata about the capture, compression of the output, etc.) but the updated version produces images in the RAW format.

WinPmem older versions.

winpmem.exe <OUTPUT_RAW_DUMP>

# --- Older versions
# -p <PAGEFILE_PATH>: instructs WinPmem to also collect the page file.

# Retrieves the page file path.
wmic pagefile list

winpmem.exe -p <PAGEFILE_PATH> -o <OUTPUT_DUMP_AFF4>


DumpIt is a reliable utility that can be used to conduct a local capture of memory on Windows systems.

Depending on the version used, different options are implemented. In a basic and standard use case, DumpIt can be simply executed with out being provided any argument to create a memory dump in the local folder.


RAM acquisition on Linux systems

Volatility profiles

Contrary to Windows systems, Volatility integrates a limited number of profiles for Linux systems. It is thus often necessary to generate the profile of the system to analyze directly on the system itself or on a system which matches the target system (identical Linux distribution, kernel version, and CPU architecture).

A number of tools must be installed on the target system (or system emulating the target system) in order to generate the Volatility profile:

  • dwarfdump

  • GCC and make

  • kernel-devel or linux-headers-generic package

Refer to the official Volatility documentation for more information on how to install the necessary tools and the build steps to generate a Volatility profile for Linux systems.

# Installs the prerequisite tools on Debian / Ubuntu systems.
apt-get install dwarfdump
apt-get install build-essential
# If "uname -a" returns something different than "generic" after the version number it may be necessary to install the specific kernel headers.
apt-get install linux-headers-generic / apt-get install linux-headers-<SPECIFIC>

# Generates the Volatility profile (which is a ZIP file).
# The generated ZIP file must be transferred to the system with Volatility installed (in the <VOLATILITY_INSTALL>/volatility/plugins/overlays/linux/ folder or the plugin folder specified as parameter to volatility using --plugins=).
git clone
cd volatility/tools/linux && make
zip $(uname)_$(uname -r)_$(uname -m) module.dwarf /boot/$(uname -r)

Acquire Volatile Memory for Linux (AVML)

AVML is a memory acquisition utility written in Rust and open-sourced by Microsoft.

The memory dumps can be generated in the LiME output format or in a compressed format that can be uncompressed using avml-convert. The compression significantly reduces the size of the memory dump.

AVML supports upload to Azure Blob Store or through HTTP PUT requests.

# Generates a memory dump in the LIME format.

# Generates a compressed memory dump that can then be uncompressed using avml-convert.
avml --compress <OUTPUT_DUMP_COMPRESSED>
avml-convert --format lime_compressed <OUTPUT_DUMP_COMPRESSED> <OUTPUT_DUMP_LIME>

# Uploads to the specified URL using a HTTP PUT request and delete the file upon successful upload.
avml --put <URL> --delete <OUTPUT_DUMP_LIME>

Linux Memory Extractor (LiME)

LiME is another memory acquisition utility that can be used to capture memory of Linux systems.

LiME is implemented as a Loadable Kernel Module (LKM) that can be loaded and executed using the insmod command.

sudo insmod lime.ko path=<OUTPUT_DUMP_LIME> format=<raw | lime>

RAM acquisition of Virtual machines

Memory of virtual machines should be acquired directly through the hypervisor, to preserve the data, using snapshots.

Detailed procedures for VMWare ESXi, Microsoft HyperV, Proxmox VE, and KVM are available on Kaspersky forum post "How to get a memory dump of a virtual machine from its hypervisor".


Memory of virtual machine should be captured through a snapshot and not by suspending the virtual machine (as suspending the machine does not preserve the network connections state). Snapshotting a VM will produce a vmem file and a vmsn file, which are both needed to conduct memory analysis. The vmem file contains the memory while the vmsn file contains information about the VM and the particular snapshot.

Snapshot procedure:

  1. Select the (running) virtual machine.

  2. Actions -> Snapshots -> Take snapshot.

  3. Specify the snapshot name and keep "Snapshot the virtual machine's memory" checked.

Then the vmem (<VM_NAME>-Snapshot<NUMBER>.vmem) and vmsn (<VM_NAME>-Snapshot<NUMBER>.vmsn) files can be downloaded from the datastore:

  • Storage -> datastore -> Datastore browser -> <DATASTORE> -> <VM> folder -> Download the vmem and vmsn files.

Microsoft Hyper-V

The Sysinternals LiveKd utility should be used to dump the memory of an HyperV virtual machine, as Hyper-V native checkpoints are not supported by all memory analysis tools (but are by MemProcFS).

LiveKD requires the Debugging Tools for Windows to be installed on the local system. The installer can be retrieved at: and the Debugging Tools installed with:

winsdksetup.exe /features OptionId.WindowsDesktopDebuggers /q /norestart

The Microsoft's symbol server should also be configured on the host:

# Requires a new session opening to be effective.
set _NT_SYMBOL_PATH "srv*c:\symbols*"

Before execution, the LiveKD should be copied to the Debugging Tools folder (by default C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Debuggers\x64).

# Lists the VM running on the system.
livekd.exe -hvl

# Dump the specified VM memory to file.
livekd.exe -hv "<VM_NAME>" -p -o "<DUMP_FILE_PATH>"

[Windows] Memory files

pagefile.sys and swapfile.sys

The pagefile.sys and swapfile.sys are files used by the Windows operating system for memory paging, i.e to store and retrieve memory pages from the main memory (RAM) to disk. It allows the system to extend the amount of total memory used. Less frequently used memory pages are swapped to disk and loaded back in the main memory on page fault events.

pagefile.sys (<SYSTEM_DRIVE>\pagefile.sys) is the system-wide page file that stores memory pages from the whole main memory. swapfile.sys (<SYSTEM_DRIVE>\swapfile.sys) is used to suspend and restart Universal Windows Plateform (UWP) applications (usually from the Windows Store) and thus only stores memory pages from those applications.

As pagefile.sys and swapfile.sys only store unstructured / unordered memory pages, the files can not be analyzed using memory tools such as Volatility or MemProcFS. The analysis of the pagefile.sys and swapfile.sys files is thus limited to carving and strings extraction. As memory pages are typically 4KB in size, only files of less than 4KB can be fully carved out. Note that scanning the pagefile.sys and swapfile.sys files for known malware indicators, with yara rules for example, may result in false-positives as such indicators may be incorporated in pages swapped from security products.

Note that Tools such as strings / bstrings or bulk_extractor can be used to extract strings such as URL, IP addresses, email addresses, or files (for bulk_extractor).

bulk_extractor -o <OUTPUT_DIRECTORY> <FILE_TO_CARVE>


The hiberfil.sys file is linked to the hibernation, hybrid sleep, and Fast Boot (Windows 8) / Fast Startup (Windows 10) features. Those features are mostly in use on Windows laptops / desktops and are generally not available by default on Windows virtual machines (and require the hibernation feature to be implemented at the hypervisor level).

As the hiberfil.sys file is shared by three different (but similar) features, the file can be in different states:

  • Hybernation: full main memory snapshot, user triggered hibernation.

  • Hybrid sleep: full main memory snapshot, combination of the sleep and hibernation states. The main memory is written to the hiberfil.sys file, then the system enters a sleep mode. If power is lost during sleep, the system uses the hiberfil.sys file to boot and restore the system state.

    Available since Windows Vista, hybrid sleep is on by default for desktop systems but off by default on laptops and requires the support of hibernation (and is thus not generally available on virtual machines).

  • Fast Boot / Fast Startup: partial memory snapshot, that contains the memory of the kernel and session 0 processes (background system services notably). Fast startup is a type of shutdown that uses a hibernation file to speed up the subsequent boot, with user(s) being logged off before the hibernation file is created. In this state, the hiberfil.sys file will notably contain MFT file and INDX records, and registry hives (SYSTEM only after Windows 10 Build 17134).

    Fast Boot / Fast Startup is enabled by default, but requires support of hibernation (and is thus not generally available on virtual machines).

Note that the hiberfil.sys file is zeroed out after a system boot starting from Windows 8 / 8.1, and may also be zeroed out on system shutdown if the ClearPageFileAtShutdown registry setting is enabled (set to 0x1). As such, the hiberfil.sys file must be retrieved from a powered off system.

The structures of the hiberfil.sys file has evolved starting with Windows 8, with notable changes in the compression methods used. There is thus currently two possible formats:

  • The "old" format, starting from Windows XP to Windows 7.

  • The "new" format, starting from Windows 8 to Windows 11.

Both formats can be processed with Hibernation recon and (more recently) volatility2 / volatility3 to convert the hibernation file to a raw file. Once converted, the resulting image can be analyzed as a standard memory image (with potentially less information however) using tools such as volatility and MemProcFS.

# volatility2 for hibernation files in the old format.

# Prints basic information about the hibernation file.
volatility -f <HIBERNATION_FILE> --profile=<PROFIL> hibinfo

# Converts the hibernation file to a raw file.
volatility -f <HIBERNATION_FILE> --profile=<PROFIL> imagecopy -O <OUTPUT>

# volatility3 for hibernation files in the new format.

# Prints basic information about the hibernation file.
volatility3 -f <HIBERNATION_FILE> windows.hibernation.Info

# Converts the hibernation file to a raw file.
# The version to specify depends on the Windows version targeted (Windows 8/8.1 to Windows 11 23H2).
# Possible values can be checked using windows.hibernation.Dump -h.
volatility3 -f <HIBERNATION_FILE> windows.hibernation.Dump --version <VERSION>

General analysis steps

The memory analysis of a compromised system is dependent of the investigations context. For example, if a workstation is suspected to have been compromised from a phishing attack, extracting the .pst / .ost files, associated with Outlook, using the filescan and dumpfiles modules, for analysis may be a good first step.

The general, context-independent, steps below can be followed for investigating the memory of a system:

  • Suspicious process hierarchy, such as outlook.exe or iexplorer.exe executing cmd.exe or powershell.exe process.

  • Identification of rogue / unlinked processes and process injection using malfind

  • Review of network connections and artifacts, looking notably for suspicious pattern for example:

    • network traffic for process that do not normally interact over the network.

    • non-web ports connections established by web browsers.

    • connections to known malicious IP addresses.

  • Scan of memory for known pattern / strings using Yara rules.

  • ...

Volatility (2 and 3)

Volatility is a complete volatile memory analysis framework, composed of a number of different modules. Volatility is implemented in Python and is completely open source.

Volatility 3 is a major rework of Volatility 2 with a few notable changes : removal of profiles, read once of the memory image for performance improvement, etc.

Volatility supports the following memory dump file format:

  • Raw/Padded Physical Memory

  • 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Crash Dump

  • 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Hibernation

  • 32-bit and 64-bit MachO files

  • Virtualbox Core Dumps

  • VMware Saved State (.vmss) and Snapshot (.vmsn)

  • Firewire (IEEE 1394)

  • Expert Witness (EWF)

  • HPAK Format (FastDump)

  • LiME (Linux Memory Extractor)

  • QEMU VM memory dumps

And the analyze of the memory from the following systems:

  • 32- and 64-bit Windows 10 and Server 2016

  • 64-bit Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

  • 32- and 64-bit Windows 8, 8.1, and 8.1 Update 1

  • 32- and 64-bit Windows 7 (all service packs)

  • 32- and 64-bit Windows Server 2008 (all service packs)

  • 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 (all service packs)

  • 32- and 64-bit Windows Vista (all service packs)

  • 32- and 64-bit Windows Server 2003 (all service packs)

  • 32- and 64-bit Windows XP (SP2 and SP3)

  • 32- and 64-bit Linux kernels from 2.6.11 to 4.2.3+

Microsoft releases new Windows 10 versions significantly more frequently than what was the norm in the past years (with nowadays to versions being released each year). Due to this rapid release cycle, supporting the latest Windows versions has become a challenge for memory forensics tools (as it requires debugging / reverse engineering of each new version to keep structure definitions and symbols up to date). This is partially why the Rekall memory forensics tool (based on a fork of Volatility with consequential subsequent rewrites of the code base) was discontinued and is no longer maintained. Volatility 3 addresses this challenge by implementing an extensive library of symbol tables and attempting to generate new tables for Windows memory images from the memory image itself.

For a more detailed modules documentation, the following official documentation can be consulted:

Basic usage

Volatility works using modules / plugins, executed individually.


# Volatility2.


# If a custom profile is needed, for example for Linux memory image analysis (collected as a ZIP file).

# The Linux environments variables VOLATILITY_LOCATION and VOLATILITY_PROFILE may be used in place of command line options to specify the memory dump file path and the volatility profile to use
volatility <PLUGIN>


The profile is no longer needed for volatility3, as offsets are retrieved using Windows public symbols (from Microsoft server, with the correct PDB determined directly from the memory image).

For volatility3, in order to speed up subsequent executions, metadata information about the memory dump (such as the kernel offset) can be stored and used using the --save-config <CONFIG_FILE> and -c <CONFIG_FILE> options respectively.

The -r pretty can be used to improve the output formatting.

volatility [--save-config <CONFIG_FILE> | -c <CONFIG_FILE>] -r pretty -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> <PLUGIN>

[Volatility] Windows memory dump analysis

Windows plugins overview

Volatility implements two main types of plugins, each using a distinct approach:

  • the "list" plugins, that will navigate through Kernel data structures to extract information from memory. The plugins implemented using this approach will work similarly to the native operating system APIs (and will thus be vulnerable to the same potential anti-forensics techniques).

  • the "scan" plugins, that will carve memory for known specific data structures. Carving is a general term for extracting structured data (in case of memory, EPROCESS objects for example) out of raw data. While a bit slower and more prone to false positives, this approach can retrieve information for objects no longer referenced by the operating system (such as a process that have exited) or hidden using anti-forensics techniques.

List of Volatility 2 plugins (either included in the base code or from the community) that can be useful for general memory forensics. Some plugins below are ported, under a different naming nomenclature, to Volatility 3.

Note that all the plugins below may not be compatible with every operating systems memory image.

Plugin Vol. 2Plugin Vol. 3Description


Extracts information from the AmCache registry hive.


Attempts to detect hooked functions and displays information about the hooks found (impacted process, hook type, function hooked, dissambly code of the hook, etc.).


(Custom) Lists processes executed from an Auto-Start Extensibility Points (ASEP).


Dumps the MsCacheV1 / MsCacheV2 hashes of locally cached Active Directory domain accounts.


Extracts the content of the Windows clipboard.


Scans the memory image for COMMAND_HISTORY structures which contain the (limited) history of commands entered in a console shell (cmd.exe).

connscan netscan


Scans the memory image for respectively connections that have since been terminated and network artifacts (TCP / UDP connections and listeners).


Scans the memory image for CONSOLE_INFORMATION structures which contain the (limited) history of commands typed as well as the screen buffer (commands input and output).


Extracts the DLL(s) loaded by each or the specified process.


Lists the DLL loaded by each or the specified process.


Scan the calls to imported functions for a process or in a specific memory page.


Dumps all the files mapped in memory (or the ones matching a specified regex).


Dumps all or the specified (using its virtual offset) registry hive to a file.


Displays the environment variables of each or the specified process.


Scans the memory image for FILE_OBJECTs which correspond to files loaded in memory.

getsids getservicesids

Lists the Security Identifiers (SID) present, respectively, in each processes token or services.


Lists the handles (and information about the handles) for each or the specified process.


Dumps the local accounts LM / NTLM hashes from the SAM registry hive loaded in memory.



Lists the registry hives.


Converts a memory dump (such as a crashdump, hibernation file, VirtualBox core dump, VMware snapshot, etc.) to a raw memory image.



Prints high level information about the memory image.


Lists the DLL loaded by each or the specified process but, in contrary to dlllist, from a process's VirtualAddressDescriptor (VAD) which can be used to find unlinked DLL.


Dumps decrypted LSA secrets (account cleartext passwords for Windows autologon or Windows services / scheduled tasks, etc.) from the memory image.


Scans the memory image for injected code, that is memory pages marked with the read, write, and execute permissions that contains data not associated with a file on disk. Due to its very nature, this plugin is prone to false positives.


(Custom) Dumps the accounts secrets from the LSASS process in memory, similarly to what can be achieved on a running system using mimikatz.


Extracts a kernel driver to a file.


Prints the subkeys, values, data, and data types contained within a specified registry key.


Lists the privileges present in each processes token and indicates if the privileges are enabled explicitly or by default.


Extracts a process's executable to a file that more or less closely resembles the original process executable.



Lists the processes of the memory image.

psscan psdispscan


Enumerates the processes of the memory image through carving.



Lists the processes of the memory image in tree form (parent-child relationships).


Uses different process listing / scanning techniques to find hidden processes.


Parses and prints Shellbag information (file name and MAC timestamps associated which entry) from all user hives loaded in memory.


Parses the Application Compatibility Shim Cache registry key.


Lists the listening sockets of any protocol (TCP, UDP, RAW, etc.).


Scans the memory image for _ADDRESS_OBJECT structures which contain sockets information.


Scans the memory image for Windows services and returns information about each service (service name and display name, service state, associated binary path, etc.).


Creates a timeline from multiples artifacts in memory (processes creation and exit times, sockets creation time, registry keys LastWriteTime etc.).


Scans the image memory for the specified YARA rule.

[Volatility 2] Image identification

The imageinfo and kdbgscan modules can be used to retrieve the image profile needed for further analysis of the image. It is recommended to retrieve the Volatility profile of the image using the kdbgscan module.

imageinfo will provide basic information on the image such as the operating system, service pack, and hardware architecture of the original system as well as the time the sample was collected and suggested Volatility profiles.

Contrary to imageinfo, kdbgscan is designed to positively identify the correct profile by scanning for KDBGHeader signatures linked to Volatility profiles.

Note that (contrary to Volatility 2) Volatility 3 does not rely on profiles and instead attempts to generate the equivalent information directly from the memory image itself.

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> imageinfo

# Recommended for Volatility profile identification
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> kdbgscan

Processes and DLLs

Processes listing

The pslist, pstree, psscan and psxview modules may be used to list the processes in the memory of the system. It is recommended to start the processes analysis using the psxview module as it integrates multiples techniques for rootkit detection.

psxview combines multiples modules / information source for listing, both linked or unlinked / hidden processes, and shows which technique(s) was able to detect each process:

  • The pslist and psscan modules, both of which are detailed below.

  • The thrdscan module to scan the memory for executive thread (ETHREAD) objects (used by the system scheduler) and then use the EPROCESS block of the data structure to identify the process that the thread belongs to.

  • The PspCidTable data structure which keeps track of all the processes and threads.

  • The Windows subsystem process (Csrss) handle table and internal independent structures.

  • The sessions module, which analyzes the unique _MM_SESSION_SPACE objects and, among others features, display the details related to the processes running in each logon session

  • The deskscan module, which enumerates desktops, desktop heap allocations, and associated threads

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> psxview

The pslist module print the processes in the list pointed to by PsActiveProcessHead. The pstree module orders the result of the pslist module in a hierarchical tree form, from parent to child(s) process(es). The pslist and pstree modules present the advantage of being able to retrieve the process name, process ID (PID), the parent process ID (PPID), number of threads, number of handles, and date/time when the process started and exited.

Both pslist and pstree modules can not detect rogue unlinked processes.

# Volatility2.

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> pslist

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> pstree

# Graphical graph output format that can be opened using xdot
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> pstree --output=dot --output-file=<OUTPUT_DOT_FILE>

# Volatility3.

volatility3 [-c <CONFIG>] -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.pslist.PsList

The psscan module attempt to list the processes by scanning the entirety of the memory dump for _POOL_HEADER objects and automatically perform sanity checks to reduce false positives. The _POOL_HEADER structure prepend each and every memory allocation made by the kernel whenever an object (process, file, etc.) is created in memory and identify the subsequent object type in the structure PoolTag field. The tag Proc is used to identify processes and thus parsing the memory for _POOL_HEADER objects having the PoolTag field set to Proc may be used to identify processes. The psscan module can thus be used to show unlinked processes.

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> psscan

DLLs listing

The dlllist and ldrmodules modules may be used to list the loaded DLLs in the memory of the system. It is recommended to start the loaded DLLs analysis using the ldrmodules module as it integrates multiples techniques for rootkit detection.

The dlllist module lists the loaded DLLs, of all processes or for the specified process, by walking the list of _LDR_DATA_TABLE_ENTRY structures pointed to by each process _EPROCESS's 'Process Environment Block (PEB) InLoadOrderModuleList list entry. DLLs are automatically added to this list when a process calls the LoadLibrary function (or others derivatives) and aren't removed until the FreeLibrary function is called and the reference count of the DLL reaches zero.

However, rootkit may hide DLLs by unlinking the DLLs from one or all of the linked lists of a process PEB (InLoadOrderModuleList, InMemoryOrderModuleList and InInitializationOrderModuleList). In which case, the dlllist module will not be able to identify the hidden DLL(s).

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dlllist

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dlllist -p <PID>

# In order to display unlinked process loaded DLLs, the physical offset of the EPROCESS object must be specified
# The offset can be retrieved using the psxview module
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dlllist --offset=<EPROCESS_PHYSICAL_OFFSET>

The ldrmodules module parses the Virtual Address Descriptor (VAD) tree (referenced in a process _EPROCESS object's VadRoot attribute) of each, or of the specified, process in order to find _FILE_OBJECT structure. The base address and the full path on disk of memory mapped files can be cross-referenced with the process PEB DLL lists to find rogue unlinked DLL(s).

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> ldrmodules -v

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> ldrmodules -v -p <PID>

The impscan module can be used to scan for calls to imported functions by a process or in a specified memory range. Scanning for calls in a memory can for instance be used to determine the functions called by a malware living only in memory.

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> impscan -p <PID>

# If malfind detects a PAGE_EXECUTE_READWRITE memory page for exemple:
#   Process: IEXPLORE.EXE Pid: 2044 Address: 0x7ff80000
#   Vad Tag: VadS Protection: PAGE_EXECUTE_READWRITE

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> impscan -p <PID> -b <ADDRESSE>


The handles module display the open handles for all processes or for the specified process by walking the HandleTableList linked list of each process _EPROCESS's ObjectTable (structure HANDLE_TABLE).

The handles can be of the following types:

  • File

  • Directory

  • Process

  • Thread

  • Key

  • Token

  • Mutant

  • Event

  • Port

  • FilterCommunicationPort

  • DebugObject

  • WmiGuid

  • Controller

  • Profile

  • Type

  • Section

  • SymbolicLink

  • EventPair

  • Desktop

  • Timer

  • WindowStation

  • Driver

  • KeyedEvent

  • Device

  • IoCompletion

  • Adapter

  • Job

  • WaitablePort

  • FilterConnectionPort

  • Semaphore

  • Callback

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> handles

# Display the specified process open handles
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> handles -p <PID>

# Display the open handles of the specified type

Process(es) / DLL(s) dump

The procdump module can be used to reconstruct a process Portable Executable (PE) file from memory, as close as possible to the original file. The memdump module dump the process PE as well as all the process addressable address space. The procdump module may be used to retrieve an executable for static or dynamic reverse engineering while the memdump module can be used to analyze the comportment of the process on the system (runtime variables, opened files, etc.)

The procdump module uses the process Process Environment Block (PEB)'s ImageBaseAddress to retrieve the PE file loaded in memory and automatically realign the memory sections (.text, .data, .bss, etc.). Additionally, procdump performs sanity checks on the PE header.

Overly simplistically put, the memdump module dumps all the process' memory pages from the process page table, retrieved from the process' _EPROCESS object Process control block (Pcb) (_KPROCESS structure) DirectoryTableBase.

Volatility3 does not include dedicated dump plugins. The windows.pslist.PsList and windows.psscan.PsScan plugins can be used to dump the binary associated with a process. The windows.memmap.Memmap plugin can be used to dump the full memory space of a process.

# Volatility2.

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> procdump -D <OUTPUT_DIR> -p <PID>

# Disable sanity checks on PE header, which may be exploited by malware to prevent the dumping
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> procdump --unsafe -D <OUTPUT_DIR> -p <PID>

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> memdump -D <OUTPUT_DIR> -p <PID>

# Volatility3.

volatility3 [-c <CONFIG>] -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.pslist.PsList --dump [--pid <PID>]

volatility3 [-c <CONFIG>] -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.psscan.PsScan --dump [--pid <PID>]

volatility3 [-c <CONFIG>] -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.memmap.Memmap --dump [--pid <PID>]

The dlldump module reconstructs the DLL(s) from memory for all processes, a specified process, the base address of a DLL in memory or using a regular expression specifying the DLL(s) name.

The dlldump module lists the loaded DLLs using the same process as the dlllist module, and dumps the DLLs using each DLL base address DllBase, retrieved in the module entry from, each or the specified, process Process Environment Block (PEB)'s InLoadOrderModuleList list (list of _LDR_DATA_TABLE_ENTRY structures).

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dlldump -D <OUTPUT_DIR>
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dlldump -D <OUTPUT_DIR> --ignore-case --regex=<REGEX>

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> procdump -D <OUTPUT_DIR> -p <PID>

# In order to dump unlinked process loaded DLLs, the physical offset of the EPROCESS object must be specified
# The offset can be retrieved using the psxview module

# In order to dump unlinked DLLs, the base address of the DLL must be specified
# The DLL base address can be retrieved using the ldrmodules module
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> procdump -D <OUTPUT_DIR> --base <DLL_BASE_ADDRESS>

Processes security context and privileges

The getsids and privs modules retrieve the Security Identifiers (SID) and the privileges associated with all or the specified process. Both modules parse the Token attribute (structure EX_FAST_REF referencing a _TOKEN object) of the process _EPROCESS object in order to retrieve, respectively the SIDs in the UserAndGroups attribute and the privileges in the Privileges attribute.

The UserAndGroups attribute is an array of _SID_AND_ATTRIBUTES objects, of size UserAndGroupCount, containing a SID value (_SID structure) and the SID state in the Attributes flag.

The Privileges attribute is an array of _LUID_AND_ATTRIBUTES objects, of size PrivilegeCount, containing a LUID value, representing a privilege, and the privilege state in the Attributes flag (combination of the following values SE_PRIVILEGE_ENABLED, SE_PRIVILEGE_ENABLED_BY_DEFAULT, SE_PRIVILEGE_USED_FOR_ACCESS and SE_PRIVILEGE_REMOVED).

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> getsids
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> getsids -p <PID>

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> privs
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> privs -p <PID>

# Display processes having the privilege(s) matching the regular expression
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> privs --regex="regex"

# Display privileges that processes explicitly enabled (i.e. that were not enabled by default but are currently enabled).
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> privs --silent

Process command line arguments

The cmdline module retrieves the command line argument(s) of all or the specified process, which are stored in each process Process Environment Block (PEB)'s ProcessParameters (_RTL_USER_PROCESS_PARAMETERS structure) CommandLine attribute. The command line is specified as an argument of the CreateProcessA function.

Note that command line arguments as stored in memory in a process PEB may be maliciously altered.

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> cmdline

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> cmdline -p <PID>

Network activity

Different plugins can be used in Volatility 2 and Volatility 3 to enumerate the active network connections of the system when the memory dump was taken. Some plugins, that rely on scanning the memory for known structures, may be able to retrieve information about ended connections, as the related memory struct may persist in memory after a connection is terminated.

# For Windows Vista / Windows 2008 and later.

# Scans memory for network object structures (TCP endpoints _TCP_ENDPOINT, TCP listeners _TCP_LISTENER, and UDP endpoints _UDP_ENDPOINT).
# Equivalent of connscan + sockscan for Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> netscan
volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.netscan.NetScan

# Lists all UDP Endpoints (in UdpPortPool or UdpCompartmentSet), TCP Listeners (TcpPortPool or TcpCompartmentSet) and TCP Endpoints (in TCP Endpoint partition table) residing in the tcpip.sys driver memory space.
# Starting from Windows 10.14xxx, the UdpPortPool and TcpPortPool were replaced by the UdpCompartmentSet and TcpCompartmentSet structs.
volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.netstat.NetStat

# For Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server (x86 or x64) ONLY.

# Enumerates the active connections by following the TCBTable table in the tcpip.sys driver memory space.
# Memory from hibernated system may not show any connections as Windows closes the connections before hibernating.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> connections

# Scans the memory for _TCPT_OBJECT structures.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> connscan

# Enumerates listening sockets by following a non non-exported struct in the tcpip.sys driver memory space.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> sockets

# Scans the memory for _ADDRESS_OBJECT sockets structures.
# May retrieve information about terminated sockets, similarly to connscan.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> sockscan

The vol2's yarascan and vol3's yarascan.YaraScan plugins can be used to scan the memory image for URLs:

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> yarascan -Y "http://"

volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> yarascan.YaraScan --yara-rules="http://"

In memory file objects enumeration and retrieval

Files present in memory, i.e files currently loaded by processes, can be listed and extracted using, respectively, the filescan / windows.filescan.FileScan and dumpfiles / windows.dumpfiles.DumpFiles plugins.

The plugins scan the memory image for _FILE_OBJECT structures, and thus present the advantage of being able to locate / dump files possibly hidden by malware (as opposed to walking structures such as _LDR_DATA_TABLE_ENTRY).

# Scan the given memory image for FILE_OBJECT structures.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> filescan
volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.filescan.FileScan

# Extract all the files (_FILE_OBJECT structures) present in the given memory dump.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dumpfiles -n --dump-dir=<OUTPUT_FOLDER> -S <OUTPUT_SUMMARRY_FILE>
volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.dumpfiles.DumpFiles

# Extract the files (_FILE_OBJECT structures) whose names match the specified regex.
# Regex examples: -r ".*\.doc" | -r ".*\.[op]st.*"
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dumpfiles -n --dump-dir=<OUTPUT_FOLDER> -r <REGEX>

# Extract the files (_FILE_OBJECT structures) present in the specified process(es) memory space.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dumpfiles -n --dump-dir=<OUTPUT_FOLDER> -S <OUTPUT_SUMMARRY_FILE> --pid=<PID | PID_COMMA_LIST>
volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.dumpfiles.DumpFiles --pid <PID>

# Extrat a single file (_FILE_OBJECT structure) at the given virtual / physical offset.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> dumpfiles -n --dump-dir=<OUTPUT_FOLDER> -Q <PHYSICAL_ADDRESS>
volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.dumpfiles.DumpFiles [--virtaddr <VIRTUAL_ADDRESS> | --physaddr <PHYSICAL_ADDRESS>]

Registry hives

The Volatility hivelist / windows.registry.hivelist.HiveList plugins can be used to list the registry hives present in a memory image. The plugins internally rely on the hivescan / windows.registry.hivescan.HiveScan plugins to scan the memory for registry hives. The scan plugins identify paged pool with the CM10 pool tag as _CMHIVE data structures, used to represent hives in kernel memory, are allocated in paged pools with this tag. The hivelist / windows.registry.hivelist.HiveList plugins validate that the offset found by the scanner indeed match registry hives by validating the _CMHIVE->_HHIVE->Signature attribute (in structure offset 0x0) to be 0xbee0bee0.

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> hivelist

volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.registry.hivelist.HiveList

The keys and subkeys (with their last written timestamp) in a registry hive can be recursively listed using the hivedump plugin. The hive virtual memory address of the targeted registry hive is required and can be retrieved using the hivelist plugin:

# Virtual offset example: 0xffff860c0e681000.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> hivedump --hive-offset <HIVE_VIRTUAL_OFFSET>

The printkey / windows.registry.printkey.PrintKey plugins can be used to print either all or the specified registry key (and whether the key is volatile or stable). If a registry hive is not specified (through its virtual memory address), the plugins will first enumerate the registry hives using the hivelist / windows.registry.hivelist.HiveList plugins.

# Print all keys' subkeys and values.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> printkey

# Search all the registry hives to print the specified key's subkey(s) and value(s).
# Key example: ControlSet001\Services.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> printkey -K '<KEY>'

# Print the key's subkey(s) and value(s) in the specified registry hives.
volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> printkey --hive-offset <HIVE_VIRTUAL_OFFSET> -K '<KEY>'

Strings identification

The vol2's strings and vol3's windows.strings.Strings plugins can be used to determine to which process given strings belong to:


volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> strings --strings-file <STRING_FILE>
volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.strings.Strings --strings-file <STRING_FILE>

Malware finder

malfind plugin

Volatility malfind / windows.malfind.Malfind plugin detect suspicious memory pages that may be the result of code injection (shellcode or DLL injection). The malfind plugin uses a number of criteria, in combination, to identify code injection:

  • Private memory region (i.e memory without an associated mapped file).

  • Executable memory (such as PAGE_EXECUTE_READWRITE) region.

  • Memory with a PE header (MZ magic number) with no associated entry in the process's PEB module list.

  • etc.

volatility -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> --profile <MEMORY_DUMP_PROFILE> malfind

volatility3 -f <MEMORY_DUMP_FILE> windows.malfind.Malfind

yarascan plugin


Local persistence

The Volatility2's autoruns and winesap plugins can be used to detect local persistence from a memory image. The plugins are complimentary as, while having some overlap, enumerate different persistence ASEP.

The ASEP are covered by the autoruns plugin are HKLM\SOFTWARE and NTUSER.DAT registry ASEP keys, Windows services and scheduled tasks, Winlogon ASEP entries, Active Setup (Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components) and Microsoft Fix-it (Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\InstalledSDB) entries. More details can be found in the project README. The persistence ASEP covered by winesap can be found in the following diagram.



[Volatility] Linux memory dump analysis

Linux plugins overview

PluginPlugin description


Dump Lime file format information


Checks for userland apihooks


Print the ARP table


Automatically detect the Linux ASLR shift


Prints the Linux banner information


Recover bash history from bash process memory


Recover a process' dynamic environment variables


Recover bash hash table from bash process memory


Verifies the operation function pointers of network protocols


Checks if any processes are sharing credential structures


Check file operation structures for rootkit modifications


Checks if the IDT has been altered


Check for inline kernel hooks


Compares module list to sysfs info, if available


Checks if the system call table has been altered


Checks tty devices for hooks


Prints info about each active processor


Gather files from the dentry cache


Gather dmesg buffer


Writes selected memory mappings to disk


Recover a process' dynamic environment variables


Find ELF binaries in process mappings


Lists files referenced by the filesystem cache


Lists and recovers files from memory


Lists current working directory of each process


Carves memory to find hidden kernel modules


Gathers active interfaces


It's like 'info registers' in GDB. It prints out all the


Provides output similar to /proc/iomem


Lists files that are opened from within the kernel


Parses the keyboard notifier call chain


Compares the output of proc maps with the list of libraries from libdl


Lists libraries loaded into a process


Dumps shared libraries in process memory to disk


List applications with promiscuous sockets


Gather loaded kernel modules


Lists file descriptors and their path


Looks for suspicious process mappings


Dumps the memory map for linux tasks


Extract loaded kernel modules


Gather mounted fs/devices


Gather mounted fs/devices from kmem_cache


Lists Netfilter hooks


Carves for network connection structures


Lists open sockets


Enumerates processes through the PID hash table


Writes per-process packet queues out to disk


Scan ELF binaries' PLT for hooks to non-NEEDED images


Gathers process memory maps


Gathers process maps for linux through the mappings red-black tree


Dumps a process's executable image to disk


Checks for signs of process hollowing


Gathers processes along with full command line and start time


Gathers processes along with their static environment variables


Gather active tasks by walking the task_struct->task list


Gather tasks from the kmem_cache


Scan physical memory for processes


Shows the parent/child relationship between processes


Find hidden processes with various process listings


Recovers the entire cached file system from memory


Recovers the routing cache from memory


Recovers packets from the sk_buff kmem_cache


Mimics /proc/slabinfo on a running machine


Match physical offsets to virtual addresses (may take a while, VERY verbose)


Prints threads of processes


Recovers tmpfs filesystems from memory


Recovers cached Truecrypt passphrases


Gather VMAs from the vm_area_struct cache


Shell in the memory image


A shell in the Linux memory image


Scans for and parses potential Master Boot Records (MBRs)


Patches memory based on page scans


Learning Malware Analysis: Explore the concepts, tools, and techniques to analyze and investigate Windows malware (English Edition)

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